The clean air package aims to substantially reduce air pollution across the EU. The proposed strategy sets out objectives for reducing the health and environmental impacts of air pollution by 2030, and contains legislative proposals to implement stricter standards for emissions and air pollution.
The package was published by the Commission on 18 December 2013, and consists of a communication on the 'clean air programme for Europe', plus three legislative proposals on emissions and air pollution.
By 2030, compared to the current situation, measures under the clean air package are estimated to:
Poor air quality has a negative impact on our quality of life. It causes many health issues, such as asthma and cardiovascular problems. This in turn results in lost working days due to ill health, and higher costs for healthcare services, especially for children and the elderly.
Health problems linked to poor air quality are particularly bad in built-up urban areas, where air quality is generally lower. Poor air quality is also the number one cause of premature death across the EU, and actually has a higher impact than road traffic accidents. In addition to the damaging effects on human health, poor air quality also damages ecosystems.
Implementing the clean air package would result in improved air quality for all EU citizens, and lower healthcare costs for governments. The proposals would also benefit industry, as measures to reduce air pollution should boost innovation and enhance EU competitiveness in the field of green technology.
The clean air package is made up of several elements:
The Council usually decides together with the European Parliament, through the ordinary legislative procedure. In some specific areas, it uses the consent or consultation procedure, where the Parliament's role is limited.
The Commission communication on the clean air programme was submitted to the Council on 20 December 2013. The Commission also presented the programme to the Council, together with the accompanying legislative proposals, at a meeting of the Environment Council on 3 March 2014.
Two elements of the clean air package fall under the ordinary legislative procedure - the proposal to modify national emission ceilings, and the proposal on medium-sized combustion plants. On these two legislative proposals, the Council therefore co-legislates with the European Parliament.
The Council has recently adopted the directive on medium-sized combustion plants in December 2015. General approach was reached on the NEC directive on national emission ceilings and is waiting for the Parliament's decision.
The proposal on the Gothenburg Protocol requires a Council decision. The European Parliament therefore must give its consent once the Council wishes to adopt the legislative proposal.